What are the Most Asked Questions About Cerebral Palsy?

What is Cerebral PalsyAs a parent with a child that has cerebral palsy, you may have a lot of things running through your mind and lots of questions about your child’s health, well-being, and future. It is important to know if your child is receiving the right care and if he or she is enjoying a high-quality life.

At Medical City Children’s Orthopedic and Spine Specialists, we understand that you deserve the best quality of care services and we remain ready to offer you the assistance you need. The following provides answers to some of the most asked questions about cerebral palsy.

What Is Cerebral Palsy?

Cerebral palsy is not just a single disorder; it is a term for a group of disabilities whereby the brain is not able to control and direct muscle movement in some parts of the body. In normal people, the brain acts as a control center for directing body movement. When someone wants to talk, walk, write, or move their body, the brain helps to achieve this by sending impulse signals to the right muscles that are responsible for such movement.

In people with cerebral palsy, the impulse signals from the brain become distorted. This makes the muscles in the body get incomplete impulse signals from the brain and they end up freezing up or moving abnormally.

What Causes Cerebral Palsy?

As stated earlier, cerebral palsy is a type of disorder in which the brain cannot control the movement of the body. This condition is caused by an injury to the cells in the cerebral cortex area of the brain when the fetus develops. The timing of this injury to the brain becomes critical. The brain injury must occur during pregnancy, childbirth, or immediately after childbirth for it to cause cerebral palsy.

After a baby becomes one month old, brain injuries will not likely lead to cerebral palsy. Injury to the brain is related to different factors such as:

Oxygen Deprivation

The fetus’s brain requires an adequate, constant supply of oxygen for it to maintain itself. Many complications during pregnancy (such as membrane rupture, maternal infection, and problems with the umbilical cord) can interfere with the delivery of oxygen to the fetus. Labor and delivery complications can also deprive the baby of oxygen. When a baby becomes deprived of oxygen, cells in the brain will start decaying and then die after some time.

Abnormal Development

Cerebral palsy can also occur when the baby’s brain does not develop normally during pregnancy. This abnormal development relates to genetic disorders or trauma, fever, and infection during pregnancy.

Childbirth Trauma

Cerebral palsy is usually caused by trauma experienced during labor and delivery. External trauma to the head of the baby caused by birth assistance tools (like vacuum extractors or obstetrical forceps) can damage the brain. Delivery complications that make the baby stuck and not get enough oxygen can also damage the brain thereby leading to cerebral palsy.

Does Cerebral Palsy Affect All Children The Same Way?

No, it doesn’t. Cerebral palsy affects everyone in different ways. It is not surprising that cerebral palsy has different forms judging from the numerous causes it has. Every individual with cerebral palsy is unique and classified as having a particular form of cerebral palsy. The classification equates to the type of movement disorder and/or the number of limbs affected by the condition.

Based on the number of limbs affected, we have:

  • Quadriplegia: This is when the four limbs are affected.
  • Diplegia:  This affects all four limbs, but the legs are more involved than the arms.
  • Hemiplegia:  This affects one side of the body, but the arm is usually more affected than the leg.
  • Triplegia:  This affects three limbs, especially both arms and a leg.
  • Monoplegia: This affects only one limb (which is usually an arm)

Note that limbs affected by cerebral palsy are not paralyzed. They can still feel pain, pressure, heat, and cold. Also, the fact that someone with cerebral palsy cannot speak does not mean he or she doesn’t have anything to say.

Is Cerebral Palsy Hereditary or Life-Threatening?

No, cerebral palsy is not hereditary; neither is it life-threatening.

Are There Different Types of Cerebral Palsy?

There are four types of cerebral palsy. They include the following:

Spastic Cerebral Palsy

This is the commonest type of cerebral palsy. It is characterized by stiff muscles and jerky movement.

Athetoid Cerebral Palsy

This makes the individual have involuntary and uncontrolled movements.

Ataxic Cerebral Palsy

This type of cerebral palsy usually affects balance and the individual’s ability to perceive things.

Mixed Cerebral Palsy

This is a mixture of one or more types of cerebral palsy.

What Are The Symptoms of Cerebral Palsy?

Most of those with cerebral palsy have stiff muscles that hinder their movement. Cerebral palsy symptoms can range from very mild to extremely severe. Each individual with cerebral palsy experiences different symptoms. Some can easily move while others cannot move at all.

Symptoms of cerebral palsy in babies include:

  • A high-pitched cry immediately after birth
  • Sudden loss of energy
  • Breathing problems at birth that require CPR or oxygen
  • Feeding problems that require a feeding tube
  • Tightness in the muscle
  • Obvious and subtle seizures
  • Weakness in the muscle (‘floppy’ appearance or inability to support the neck)

Symptoms of cerebral palsy in children include:

  • Strabismus (lazy or cross-eye)
  • Difficulty in sitting, standing, or walking
  • Paralysis
  • Inability to speak
  • Contacted joints in the arms, legs, or trunk
  • Seizures
  • Weakness of the muscle
  • Tightness in the muscle

What Is The Role of Physical Activity in Long-Term Goals in Cerebral Palsy?

The main problems in cerebral palsy are muscle weakness, abnormal muscle tone, coordination, sensory perception, balance, and selective motor control. Most of these persist for the individual’s whole life. Spasticity and muscle weakness increase as the person gets older and gains weight.

Hence, physiotherapy can help keep the weight under control. Once physiotherapy helps keep weight in check, gym and yoga can then get added because they help those with cerebral palsy.

How Is Cerebral Palsy Diagnosed?

Since it is difficult to know if a baby has Cerebral palsy, the diagnosis usually occurs later, but before the child becomes 3 years old. Most of the initial symptoms of cerebral palsy occur with other issues, and this can make it difficult for parents to detect the condition.

An experienced medical practitioner will identify the symptoms and carry out tests, scans, and exams to determine if the child has cerebral palsy. Some of these include blood tests, CT scans, MRIs, and physical examinations.

We have been experiencing some impressive developments in cerebral palsy care recently. Depending on your child’s symptoms, he or she can live a healthy, comfortable, and independent life.

How do you Prevent Cerebral Palsy?

Although cerebral palsy cannot be fully prevented, however, you can reduce your baby’s chance of getting cerebral palsy by reducing the risk factors associated with the condition. Measures such as good antenatal checkups, treatment of hypothyroidism, good care of neonates, and avoiding the use of cigarettes, alcohol, and toxic drugs during pregnancy can prevent cerebral palsy to some extent.

Can Doctors Cure Cerebral Palsy?

As of the time of writing this article, cerebral palsy has no cure. However, experts are still carrying out research to find a cure. Early diagnosis, treatment, and therapeutic procedures can help kids with cerebral palsy grow and develop to their fullest potential. Cerebral palsy is a lifelong condition but it does not degenerate over time. Many children grow up to enjoy productive and independent lives through the help of professional and family caregivers.

Children are usually cared for by a team of medical specialists such as doctors, surgeons, nurses, psychologists, therapists, social workers, educators, and home health care experts. However, it is important to allow children with cerebral palsy to be taken care of by a cerebral palsy specialist. Since cerebral palsy can be mild or severe, your child will only require minimal help, such as assistance with strengthening exercises or personal care or help with enteral feedings, breathing support via a tracheostomy and ventilator, and management of seizures. For instance, not all children with cerebral palsy use devices like walkers or wheelchairs.

How do you Manage Cerebral Palsy?

A team of professionals and family members is required to effectively manage cerebral palsy and provide around-the-clock service. In serious cases of cerebral palsy whereby the child cannot carry out normal daily tasks, an in-home respite caregiver from Medical City Children’s Orthopedic and Spine Specialists can help.

Let’s Help You Take Charge of Your Child’s Cerebral Palsy

Learning how you can assist your child and also help your family live with cerebral palsy is the best way to help your child live his or her life to their greatest potential. In addition, Medical City Children’s Orthopedic and Spine Specialists can help you and your family with the care and professional help your child requires.

What Are The Most Asked Questions About Cerebral Palsy?

As a parent with a child that has cerebral palsy, you may have a lot of things running through your mind and lots of unanswered questions about your child’s health, well-being, and future. Also, it is important to know if your child is receiving the right care and if he or she is enjoying a high-quality life.

Finally, at Medical City Children’s Orthopedic and Spine Specialists, we understand that your child deserves the best quality of care services and we are always ready to offer you the assistance you need. Below are answers to some of the most asked questions about cerebral palsy.